12/11/10 — Mar-Mac firefighters sending Christmas packages to comrades overseas

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Mar-Mac firefighters sending Christmas packages to comrades overseas

By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 11, 2010 11:20 PM

Two Seymour Johnson airmen stationed overseas will soon receive surprise gift packages, care of the Mar-Mac Volunteer Fire Department.

The airmen will have the opportunity to thank the firefighters in person when return to Goldsboro and their jobs -- as Mar-Mac firefighters.

About 30 firefighters from the department brought in goods for the care packages that were sent out Thursday to their fellow firefighters.

Rick Nolte, a lieutenant with the department, is stationed in Afghanistan.

Devin Stuart, a firefighter at the department for two years, is stationed in Iraq.

Both of the men are serving a six-month deployment and should return in early 2011.

The large containers were filled with toiletries, like mouthwash and sanitary wipes, tee-shirts that they department recently had printed, iTunes, Christmas cards, and, of course, tasty treats.

"One of the firefighter's wives makes homemade brownies that both the guys really like, so we put those in there too," said Chief Bill Harrell. "I expect the baked goods will be at the top of the hit list."

While this is first time the department has mailed off a care package to servicemen, airmen working at the Mar-Mac Fire Department is nothing new.

"We usually keep around four or five guys that are in the air service on the department," Harrell said.

In fact, the two containers that were shipped to Nolte and Stuart were provided from another Mar-Mac fighter that received the containers when he was serving overseas.

Harrell said there has been some e-mail correspondence between the two airmen and the Mar-Mac firefighters since they deployed.

"It is just like a big family," said Harrell.

Harrell said that Stuart, a single man whose family lives in Virginia, made a home at the department before being deployed, and would spend time time at the department between his shifts at Seymour Johnson.

"It is like having a full-time person at the station. We always know that there is someone there," said Harrell.

Nolte, who is married with three children, is equally missed.

"Both of the guys are real active in the department," said Harrell. "And we want them to know we are thinking about them."